Panasonic G7 Review: Perfect YouTube Camera

Panasonic-G7-review-best-youtube-camera

In 2014, I fell madly in love with the Panasonic GH4.

In 2015, I bought the GH4’s little brother, the Panasonic G7.

Cupid shot me again.

For under $1K, the Panasonic G7 is one of the best cameras for video. I believe it to be a perfect YouTube camera, and in this post I’ll give you my top reasons.

Size

The Panasonic G7 is a mirrorless camera which gives it some advantages when it comes to video.

First, mirrorless cameras are lighter and more compact than traditional DSLR cameras. So if you’re using your camera to vlog, for example, you don’t want your forearm cramping up from holding the camera up all day. That’s no good. Lighter = better.

Another advantage that mirrorless cameras have over DSLR cameras are the focus sensors which usually make mirrorless cameras better for video. DSLRs cannot use phase detection with the mirror up while recording video, so they have to use the contrast-detection focus method which is slower.

Fast focus for video is always nice to have.

Quality

The G7 has a 16 Megapixel Micro Four-Thirds sensor that is able to record 4K Ultra HD video. If you don’t know, 4K has 4x the amount of pixels compared to 1080p HD. This allows it to capture stunning video.

But this is the really cool part: You can record in 4K on the G7, import the 4K video onto a 1080p timeline using capable video editing software, and export the 4K footage as 1080p. What this does is pack that 4K resolution into a 1080p frame, which essentially multiplies the amount of detail in the video for some amazing quality.

It doesn’t stop there. Not only does the G7 record in 4K, but it can record full HD 1080p video at 60fps. So you can have a 60fps video or you can record in 60fps and slow it down to a 24fps timeline which results in super smooth slow motion. This is a huge advantage over similarly priced DSLR cameras that can only record full HD at 30fps.

What is “Micro Four Thirds”?

Micro Four-Thirds (MFT) means the sensor is smaller than a full frame sensor that some more expensive cameras have. The main takeaway is that MFT sensors have a crop factor to consider so a 25mm MFT lens is actually equivalent to a 50mm lens on a full frame camera.

Does that mean MFT bad? Absolutely not. MFT produces amazing quality video. The main advantage full frame has over MFT is better low light performance, but if you’re filming YouTube videos you almost always have control over lighting so this shouldn’t be an issue, especially if you’ve read my free guide.

What About Lenses?

So far in my experience, the MFT lens selection has been very satisfying.

The Lumix 12-35mm is by far one of the best and most versatile zoom lenses for the Panasonic G7. It is equivalent to a 24-70mm on a full frame DSLR so it has good range, it’s sharp with fast auto-focus, and it has optical image stabilization (OIS) which helps minimize shakiness when shooting handheld. Plus, like most MFT lenses, it’s small and lightweight.

MFT prime lenses are similar to the mirrorless camera advantages in that they are small and light. In my opinion, the best prime lens for new G7 owners is the Lumix 25mm f/1.7. It’s fantastic in low light and great at getting that blurry background. Best of all it’s affordable.

Not only can you use MFT lenses on the G7, but with an adapter called a Speed Booster you can use lenses that are made for DSLR cameras. For example, this Sigma 18-35mm lens is actually made for Canon APS-C DSLRs but with the Speed Booster it can be used on the G7 and it’s one of the most popular lenses among G7 users. A Speed Booster also gives it a faster F-stop so you can really max out the aperture and get that creamy milky bokeh. The Speed Booster does come with a high price tag, but it’s worth it in my opinion if you plan on sticking with a MFT camera for the foreseeable future.

Reliability & Features

When it comes to quality, the G7 has been extremely reliable. I’ve had absolutely no problems, no overheating, no trouble writing 4K video to the memory cards. Tip: if you do get a G7, get these memory cards. They are super cheap on Amazon and work great.

The G7 is also easy to learn. Many of the menus and controls are customizable so you can adapt it to your personal workflow. I won’t go into detail on how to use it, but I may do a tutorial for beginners if I get enough requests.

One of my favorite G7 features is the fully articulating touch screen EVF. It’s great for recording videos of yourself which most of us YouTubers are doing. The touch screen on the EVF is a perfect companion to the fast auto focus. Zebras are great for avoiding overexposure, and focus peaking is convenient to have for nailing focus in manual focus mode.

An underdog feature is the built-in WiFi along with the free remote control smartphone app. Again, for YouTubers filming themselves, it’s a life saver. You’re able to get yourself perfectly in focus by using the WiFi + app.

The G7 has various camera profiles for achieving your desired cinematic look. And of course it has a microphone input jack and a hot shoe mount on top, which are both essential for connecting a professional external microphone.

Conclusion

When it comes to best bang for your buck, the Panasonic G7 is the top of the line. It’s hard to find a 4K camera that’s cheaper than the G7. At the time of this writing, you can get a brand new G7 body for under $500 on eBay.

I hope you enjoyed this review, and let me know what you think of the G7 in the comments below.

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  • SimonRSP

    Hey Andy, great write up. I’m right now shooting on a Samsung NX300 (+Canon G7X on occasion, but that’s not much good in studio). The Samsung has served me very well, but it lacks that all important articulating screen (at least one that can flip up 90 degrees) or the ability to monitor via HDMI. I’m right now deciding between the G7 and GH4 – I know the GH4 has “live monitoring” (is that the right term?), so I can plug in an HDMI cable and monitor the video while I shoot, but is that something that comes with the G7?

    • Hey Simon, I saw that you also commented on my YouTube video and I replied to your question there 🙂

      • SimonRSP

        Thanks Andy, yep, I saw the bigger conversation was happening over there so reposted by comment. Thank you for the answer :).